Inside the Magic has since updated this article to reflect the most accurate information
Walt Disney World Resort has been taking the health and safety of their Cast Members and Guests very seriously during the pandemic, ensuring masks are always correctly worn (and strong consequences if not), and enforcing social distancing. Social distancing was also implemented on every attraction, especially roller coasters that would typically load Guests into every row, pre-pandemic. Now, it seems Disney World is not always spacing out rows on all of their coasters.
Disney has recently issued a statement, so we have updated our article with more information. Scroll to the bottom of this post to read what Disney has shared.
Having been at the Magic Kingdom only a couple of days ago and having ridden Space Mountain, I can confidently say that that attraction is still implementing social distancing. Each rocket has three seats behind the other, and they are seated per party. So, when I, as a solo rider, hopped in the ride vehicle, I was the queen of the space shuttle!
However, not all coasters are taking the same approach they once were. Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was once placing riders in every other row, but now, every row is being filled with Guests, and not all parties appear to be separated.
If we take a look at Timothy Anderson’s (@cindykid75) photo on Twitter, we can see that as of a few days ago all masked riders were sitting one behind the other.
Expedition Everest roller coaster!! pic.twitter.com/oGFfeYbYdI
— Timothy Anderson (@cincykid75) December 11, 2020
J Disney (@DisneyXC) even took to Twitter on December 10 to note that “Expedition Everest is loading every row,” and therefore, not implementing the prior social distancing practice of keeping a row empty in between parties.
Expedition Everest is loading every row pic.twitter.com/Q1JZTJAuVj
— Jonathan (@DisneyXC) December 10, 2020
Also, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the popular Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster in Toy Story Land seems to also be loading parties in every row without separating them. Disney Geust Brianne (@Brianneinneverland) showcased this photo of the attraction on Instagram, where we can see that the attraction is fully loaded.
All of this being said, while riders are on the coasters, proper masks must be worn. If they choose to not comply with that rule and remove their mask, Disney has been stopping attractions, and now we know they will even stop roller coasters when Guests disobey the rules. Disney Cast Members can see riders the entire time they are on an attraction, so to save yourself the embarrassment, as well as to just stay safe and protect those around you, please keep a mask on while you ride.
Universal Orlando Resort began removing social distancing on their attractions back in September stating that they had “been planning toward this for months as part of the next step of our reopening procedures, and we are applying everything we have learned so far. We’ve briefed local health officials about our plans, and they have let us know they are comfortable with us moving forward.”
We have been planning toward this for months as part of the next step of our reopening procedures, and we are applying everything we have learned so far. We've briefed local health officials about our plans, and they have let us know they are comfortable with us moving forward.
— Universal Orlando Resort (@UniversalORL) September 11, 2020
Since we initially published this article, Disney representatives have issued a statement regarding the reasoning for loading more Guests onto these attractions. Here’s what they shared, according to a People article published on December 18:
“Those rides were selected because they feature higher backs that create more of a physical barrier between guests, the representative said, noting that the choice had been made with the support of local Florida health officials.”
People also mentioned that the Disney representative they spoke with noted that this is, “not an official new phase of reopening, but rather an ongoing evolution of park practices”.
It seems that with capacity increasing and wait times growing, safely seating all Guests is the solution.
Do you feel comfortable riding an attraction where every seat is loaded, as long as all Guests are still wearing their face masks? Or would you prefer distancing measures to still be in place? Let us know in the comments.